A Cynic Writes...
Got A Light Mac?
It beats the hell out of me why all the advances in technology over the past 25 years seem to count for nothing when we get round to thinking about the lighting and visuals at a gig. OK, there's Varilights, which swivel about in a really swivelly way, but their only use is to keep up with unusually nimble superstars who can't bear the thought of choreographing themselves out of the limelight for even a few seconds. And OK, there's Mr Gabriel with a Magicam in his gob and a bit of dry ice drifting around the telephone box. So what? It's got nothing on Starlight Express, I can tell you.
Any techno band can stick a few tellys on the PA and call it multi-media. All they do is show Nintendo out takes and a few bits of Apollo space mission footage nicked from those compilations of newsreel archives you can buy at Woolies anyway. And just because U2 have read the Ladybird Book of Andy Warhol's Trendiest Ideas doesn't make them anything other than superannuated bedroom mirror air-guitar poseurs either.
Look, you can sample any sound in the world and alter it in an instant. You can interact with a computer in real time and have it play all your instruments for you while you go and make a cup of tea. You can have an orchestra in a box the size of a novel by Stephen King in paperback. And you can play the harmonica through a guitar. So why do rock gigs still look like The Old Grey Whistle Test? I'll tell you why: because the rock establishment is the most reactionary, egotistical, narrow-minded and Luddite fraternity on the face of this planet, that's why. They won't tolerate anything innovative, challenging or radical when it comes to that little ivory tower called the stage. Anything, that is, that threatens the umbilical cord of the spotlight.